Mark Alvarado

I love the freedom of designing a new branding idea for a company which usually begins with a simple idea. Then I take it and run with it until I have achieved what my client was looking for.


Graphic designer Mark Alvarado has been at the heart of his chosen industrial sector since leaving UCLA with his Bachelor’s degree less than a decade ago. Mark believes his work as a graphic designer will continue to grow as he has developed his office in Palo Alto in California to provide his skills to local companies and has expanded his reach across the U.S. to find national acclaim for his work in many different fields. The success he has achieved as an entrepreneur has allowed Mark Alvarado to purchase a second home in Texas and he hopes will let him explore the world as he travels to meet more international clients.

How did you decide to become a graphic designer?

I trained as a graphic designer at UCLA and knew my talents would be best served by exploring this area when it came time to work. It was difficult to begin my career as a freelancer as times were tight for the first couple of years but I always held on to my faith and hoped I would make a success of working for myself.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Each day starts with me waking up and checking my phone for emails and messages from clients who will communicate with me at all hours of the day and night depending on where they are located across the U.S. and internationally. I take a look at my schedule and make a list of priorities which I find helps maintain my productivity every day. After I have returned any calls, texts, or emails I may have received I set out on my day’s work which is the part of every day I love. Throughout the day I field calls and provide updates on ongoing projects to my clients.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As a graphic designer, I often have to work within set parameters such as existing fonts and styles a brand is already associated. However, I do love the freedom of designing a new branding idea for a company which usually begins with a simple idea. Then I take it and run with it until I have achieved what my client was looking for. Each project is different, and sometimes an idea will hit within minutes while others are worked on for hours to get them right.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Responsive logo design is something I am always interested in as most of my work must now be visible on many different platforms. This is not a new idea, but I believe the success being achieved with responsive logo design is something of a watershed moment as major brands are looking to simplify the design process at all levels.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Sticking to deadlines. It’s a simple fact, but as a freelancer, my clients want their project complete as promised.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t lose faith. There were times when I considered taking my design skills to major companies, but I knew I wanted to work for myself and make a career I could be proud of. I like to think I’m now in the position I wanted to be in a couple of years ago but I was naive when I created my initial business plan.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

The climate is changing, and we have to protect it. I live in California and Texas where the landscapes are always evolving and changing in a way which I notice as a layperson.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read the small print. Whether it is a project I am taking on or some form of regulation relating to my business I always look back and make sure I have a complete understanding of my options from the beginning of any process through to its completion.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I’ve taken a significant interest in social media as a marketing tool from Instagram to Linkedin. My Linkedin account has brought me a considerable amount of business, but I have also heard many of my more recently acquired clients explain how they found my work on Instagram before calling me.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Wow! As an entrepreneur, I have had some failures and learned something from each of them. I guess early in my career I failed to read the brief I was given by a client and was told in no uncertain terms I had wasted their time, I have never made that mistake again.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I love archery so I think there should be a national chain of ranges where equipment can be rented and used for a few hours, and a single national membership allows admittance to all locations.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently paid less than $100 for a yoga class which has allowed me to focus for more extended periods of time during my working days.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Dropbox has proven itself invaluable for me as a freelance graphic designer. My clients have access to the latest versions of the work I am completing for them, and they can make suggestions and provide feedback as I move through a project.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I may be late to the party, but I recently read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Reis and found it enlightening in many different ways, particularly when it comes to maintaining a budget as an entrepreneur.

What is your favorite quote?

I always like looking at the ways sports coaches lead their troops and develop their ego over time, and I have been particularly impressed by the English soccer coach, Brian Clough who said, “I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one.”

Key Learnings

• I believe the key to being a successful entrepreneur is understanding every aspect of a project being undertaken.

• During my career, I have had many failures but has used these to learn and grow as an entrepreneur.

• I believe keeping my clients happy is a key part of the success I have achieved in business.


Book: Mark Alvarado: Archery For Beginners